"The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”" (John 4:1-26)
Segregation is not a new idea. It occurred all throughout the ancient near east during the time of Jesus- perhaps none stronger than the separation of Jew and Samaritan. Those who hear of this account in the biblical culture would have been appalled at the thought of Jesus (a Jew) initiating a conversation with a Samaritan (a Samaritan woman no less!). It would have been a scandal no less offensive than the thought of our President sitting down to have dinner at a nice New York restaurant with Osama Bin Laden. The public outcry would be huge. The same would be true of the encounter with the Samaritan woman and Jesus.
So why would Jesus risk it? Why threaten the integrity of his reputation and ministry? Maybe it was because Jesus did not come to promote his own reputation. His mission was to offer something that would change the reputation of others, not only in the eyes of man, but more importantly, in the eyes of God.
The Samaritan woman was thirsty. Like everyone, she came to a well to draw water. But unlike everyone else, she avoids the convenience of the city well and she travels a significance distance outside the city to avoid the ridicule of her neighbors. By all accounts, she was ashamed.
And Jesus knew why. He breaks the social tradition and asks her for a drink. It was a way to introduce a conversation and her surprise could not be over estimated. This is the reason she so boldly asks Jesus, “Why are you, a Jew, speaking to me, a Samaritan?”
Jesus tells her the reason. He explains that she is coming to quench the thirst of her lips, but He has come to satisfy the thirst of her soul. She is seeking water, Jesus is offering life.
But the woman does not understand at first. In fact, she is distracted by the thought of her reputation. If she did not have to come to the well, she could avoid the ridicule of others who judged her. “Please give that water so that I don’t have to come to this well,” she tells Jesus.
In what seems to be a rude interruption, Jesus tells the woman to go get her husband.
“Here we go again,” she thinks. “My reputation precedes me and I must once again reveal that no one wants me. I don’t have a husband and have been abandoned more times than I can count. Don’t remind me…I know. I am worthless and completely empty inside.”
“You mean you’re thirsty inside?” Jesus probes.
“I am,” she says. “And I have been seeking answers in the only way I know how. I know the Messiah is coming and perhaps He can give me what I am looking for.”
“He can,” says Jesus. “I who speak to you am He. You have worshiped what you do not know. Now you know.”
All creation worships God. The only difference is that some worship God in ignorance and others in truth. The woman at the well was thirsty because she was ignorant of the only source of life that would satisfy her soul. Jesus reveals that He is the one sent to satisfy the thirst of every soul.
Now He turns to you. What is your reputation? Do you have something to prove? Do you have something to hide? Jesus continues to make the same offer as He did to the woman at the well. Satisfy your soul in Him. Worship Him in Spirit and truth. Drink up my friend.